TSgt Jason Schroeder, TSgt Shawn Potter, SSgt Kylan Olsen , 142 Security Forces Squadron taking a moment to enjoy coffee prior to the phone lines opening up. (photo provided by 142 Security Forces Squadron)
11/28/2011 - PORTLAND, Ore. -- - Phones ringing off the hook, on-line donations and pledges pouring in while Airmen from the 142 Fighter Wing "Redhawks" stood by to take pledges and donations from generous residents and business across Oregon and Southwest Washington. November 28, through December 2 marked KPAM radio and the Salvation Army's "Operation Santa Claus" donation and pledge drive.
Over the course of eight years KPAM radio host Bob Miller and The Salvation Army have helped to raise over $1,000,000 in support of military members and families in need.
In 2003, Miller came to The Salvation Army wanting to help service men and women in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Since then, The Salvation Army Home Front War Relief Program, with help from Miller and KPAM radio' s Operation Santa Claus helped provide support for practical needs of military families whose wage earner has deployed.
Military personnel and/or dependents of deployed military personnel (including very recently returned) are eligible for services including; one-time financial assistance (checks sent directly to vendors), referral to other community and military resources for on-going support and counseling when needed and appropriate.
The generosity of the local community started off early in the morning with a pledge of $11,000 taken over the phone by Oregon Air National Guard Maj. Frank Page, commander of the 142 Security Forces Squadron. He rang the traditional "Salvation Army Bell" and announced to everyone in the room the great news, resulting in cheers and a round of applause.
"It's a great event, a worthy cause, and really supports our military members and their families in need year around," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Rich, of the 142 SFS.
"This is my second year taking part in Operation Santa Claus and when asked to donate my time this year there was no way I would miss this opportunity," Rich added.
Seven members of the 142 SFS, and one member of the 142 Operations Group took turns answering the ringing phones. The group took pledges, and conducted live radio and television interviews by Miller and KPTV Fox-12 "Good Day Oregon" weatherman Andy Carson.
During the radio show, another Oregon Airman, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Lear, who is currently deployed with the 966th Air Expeditionary Squadron as their First Sergeant, spoke with Miller via telephone about his current experience in Afghanistan.
"Thanksgiving was great," Lear said. "The squadron leadership and I grabbed chow to-go at the DFAC, went back to the squadron conference room for some squadron time with our deployed Airmen. It was pretty cool."
When not deployed Lear is assigned to the 142FW as the Headquarters First Sergeant, and also serves as a police officer for the City of Vancouver in Southwest Washington. During his phone interview, Lear also took time to record a radio promotion for Operation Santa Claus, an annual show which the Oregon Air National Guard and KPAM radio have collaborated on for years.
At the completion of the Bob Miller Radio Show Operation Santa Claus donations and pledge drive had raised over $25,000, beating the opening day goal set in 2010